OSB

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Wall Sheathing Options

Choosing between OSB, plywood, fiberboard, rigid foam, diagonal boards, and fiberglass-faced gypsum panels

Posted on Nov 20 2015 by Martin Holladay
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For the past 30 years, the majority of new homes in the U.S. have been built with wood-framed walls sheathed with oriented strand board (OSB). Most builders are so comfortable with OSB wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. that they never consider using an alternative material.

In fact, a wide range of materials can be used to sheathe a wood-framed wall. In addition to OSB, builders can choose plywood, fiberboard, rigid foam, diagonal boards, and fiberglass-faced gypsum panels. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool OSB user, it might be time to consider some of the available alternatives to OSB.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Lunenburgfirehouse.blogspot.com

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Is OSB Airtight?

Builders and researchers in North America and Europe report that air can leak right through oriented strand board

Posted on Dec 12 2014 by Martin Holladay

UPDATED on August 13, 2015

Most builders assume — and GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has long reported — that oriented strand board (OSB) is a good air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both.. If a builder uses a high quality tape like Siga Wigluv, Zip System tape, or 3M All Weather flashing tape to seal sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. seams, OSB wall and roof sheathing can act as a building’s primary air barrier.


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Image Credits:

  1. Images #1, 2, 3, and 4: Richard Pedranti
  2. Image #5: Niall Crosson
  3. Images #6, 7, 8 and 9: J. Langmans, R. Klein, and S. Roels
  4. Images #10 and #11: Tom Schneider / Prosoco

Air permeability requirements for air barrier materials in passive houses

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Is Oriented Strand Board as Impermeable as They Say?

An interesting look at the vapor permeability of OSB

Posted on Aug 27 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Oriented strand board (OSB) gets blamed for a lot of problems that are really the fault of the designers and builders. Part of the problem, of course, is the perrenial confusion between correlation and causality. OSB hit the market as we really started getting serious about insulation and air sealing.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard
  2. Building Science Corporation
  3. Chris Timusk

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All About Wall Rot

If your wall sheathing is rotten, the first question to answer is: where did the moisture come from?

Posted on Nov 23 2012 by Martin Holladay

Contractors who specialize in repairing rotten walls won’t run out of work any time soon. The epidemic of wall-rot problems that began more than 20 years ago shows no signs of abating. In fact, wet-wall specialists are often called to investigate problems in developments where most of the homes have rotting walls — and in some cases, these homes are only six years old.


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Image Credits:

  1. Photo with pipe staging: Will Smith — Rot under window: Mark Parlee (MP) — Splashback: Fairhope Farm — No kickout: MP — Missing step flashing: MP — Missing deck flashing: Everflashing — Ice dam: Ecduzitgood — Solar vapor drive: MP — Exfiltration: FHB

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Belgian Passivhaus is Rendered Uninhabitable by Bad Indoor Air

Inward solar vapor drive and damp earth tubes conspire to ruin an expensive new superinsulated home

Posted on Jun 1 2012 by Martin Holladay

The first single-family Passivhaus in the U.S. was completed by Katrin Klingenberg in 2004. Klingenberg’s superinsulated home in Urbana, Illinois includes two unusual features: a ventilation system that pulls fresh outdoor air through a buried earth tubeVentilation air intake tube, usually measuring 8 or more inches in diameter and buried 5 or more feet below grade. Earth tubes take advantage of relatively constant subterranean temperatures to pre-heat air in winter and pre-cool it in summer. In humid climates, some earth tubes develop significant amounts of condensation during the summer, potentially contributing to indoor air quality problems., and walls that include an interior layer of OSB. These details were not invented by Klingenberg; she adopted practices that were commonly used by European Passivhaus builders.


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Image Credits:

  1. Hugo Hens
  2. Martin Holladay

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To Install Stucco Right, Include an Air Gap

How should stucco be installed to avoid the wall-rot problems plaguing thousands of U.S. houses?

Posted on Nov 12 2010 by Martin Holladay

In many areas of the country, hundreds of stucco-clad homes have suffered wall rot. Although building scientists are still researching the causes of wall rot behind stucco, it’s clear that all of these walls got wet and were unable to dry.


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Image Credits:

  1. Images #1 and #2: Energy Design Update
  2. Image #3: Building Science Corporation

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How Risky Is Cold OSB Wall Sheathing?

The thicker your wall, the colder your sheathing. If you build a very thick wall, will your sheathing stay cold and wet?

Posted on Nov 5 2010 by Martin Holladay

During the winter months, wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. is usually cold. Cold sheathing is risky, since it tends to accumulate moisture during the winter. Unless the sheathing can dry out during the summer months, damp sheathing can rot.


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Image Credits:

  1. GreenBuildingAdvisor

The New Forest of Man-Made Trim

Posted on Dec 18 by Christina Glennon

Abstract

Alternative trim may not be cost-effective when you buy it, but it becomes cost-effective after you've saved money on maintenance or replacement

According to many builders, wood trim isn't what it used to be. Today's wood trim cracks, warps, checks, and doesn't seem to hold paint the way it used to.

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Plywood vs. OSB

Posted on Dec 18 by Christina Glennon

Abstract

New-generation panels mean decade-old notions are no way to choose sheathing. Here's what you need to know.

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